In the heat of summer, water is very important to birds as much as it is to us humans. The general consensus is that the best times to go birding are spring and autumn when the migration adds some attractive species and heightens the numbers. However, if you plan to come to Andalucía in the summer, that doesn´t mean you have to forget about birdwatching. The heat makes it easier to see birds in certain areas: for example in marshes, lakes and reservoirs, places where birds gather for drink, food and a bit of socialising.

June, July and even August are the months when one can see a lot of juvenile birds, something that also makes the parents easier to observe as they fuss over their clumsy and inexperienced offspring, feeding them on tree branches and on the ground, teaching them by example about the world and survival.

There are several lakes, lagoons and marshes around Ronda area and further out that are brimming with birdlife in the summer. Some can be organized as half-day trips and some as full-day trips. Here are some suggestions.

Marshes of Costa de la Luz

A full-day trip to Barbate and Vejer de la Frontera. Starting at 8:00 a.m., a two-hour picturesque drive through Andalucían countryside will take us to some of the most exciting birding areas in Andalucia. Amongst the many species that we can observe are: Black-winged Stilt, Purple Gallinule, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Red Kite, Black Kite, Hoopoe, European Bee-Eater, Great Reed Warbler, Little Egret, a large and noisy Cattle Egret colony, Avocet (pictured below), Montague´s Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrel and Black-shouldered Kite.

During our trip we´ll not only try to ID birds, but also learn about their habitat and way of life as well as attempting to recognize a few bird calls and songs with the help of audio files. Please note that I do not use bird calls as bait - this activity can be harmful and is not allowed, especially during the breeding season. 

We can have lunch in the beautiful village of Vejer de la Frontera, known for good places to eat (lunch not included in the price), and then make our way back slowly using a different route for more countryside views.

The price includes the use of good binoculars, telescope, guide books, insurance and specialised guiding. Transport can be arranged.

Duration: 8am to 6pm, driving time included.
Price: 65 euros per person with tax included; minimum 2 people.

Campillos fields and lakes

The area around Campillos in Málaga province is about 45 minutes away from Ronda and it is a great area for some surprising species of birds, including: Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt (pictured below), Roller, Collared Pratincole and Stone Curlew. This full-day trip includes birdwatching in three different locations which are close to one another. Lunch in in one of the small unspoilt villages is an option (not included in the price) and we will include a short bird song recognition workshop. Whenever possible I include elements of animal tracking and interpretation of prints and signs left by the fauna.

Price includes all transport, guiding, use of guide books, good binoculars and telescope, insurance and taxes.

Duration: 9am to 4pm including driving time.
Price: 60 euros per person; minimum 2 people.

Around the rivers of  the Ronda villages

This half-day trip will take you to specific spots around two villages close to Ronda where birds gather in the summer. Species that we are very likely to see include: Rock Sparrow, Woodchat Shrike, Black Wheatear, Zitting Cisticola, Golden Oriole, Kingfisher, European Bee-Eater, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli´s Eagle, Common Kestrel, Griffon Vulture and their young, Crested Lark and Southern (or Iberian) Grey Shrike.

Duration: 9am to 2pm, driving time included.
Price: 35 euros per person; minimum 2 people.
Included in the price guiding, bird call recognition and animal tracking elements, use of good binoculars and telescope, tax and insurance.

Short-toed Eagle in Vejer de la Frontera, July 2011